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“If there’s a hero, it's the community”: Couple tries to save a man’s life on Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers couple, Mitch and Tara Bratton, recount the dramatic rescue attempt on Memorial Day
Posted at 8:12 PM, May 28, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A Fort Myers couple spent their Memorial Day trying to save a man’s life on Fort Myers Beach, and they’ve spent the hours since trying to help his grieving wife.

Mitch and Tara Bratton said they could have never imagined how their holiday would end up.

“He was on a phone call, I was just sitting there, and a woman came out of the water yelling to call 911,” said Tara.

They say that’s when they saw people struggling to help a man who appeared unconscious in the water, so they jumped in to help.

“I hooked him under one arm and tried to support his neck. As we were getting closer to the shore, three more people jumped in to grab his legs. So, we stopped CPR for a minute and dragged him as fast as we could to something solid,” Mitch explained.

The Bratton’s say within minutes EMT showed up to take over trying to resuscitate the man. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office says the man’s name is Lance Haines.

Mitch and Tara said they noticed Haines’ wife was nearby so they rushed to help support her.

“As a wife I could only put myself in her shoes. You know, I just kept picturing him,” she said pointing at her husband next to her. “I’m just like ‘I have to do something for her.’ And we did - as a group of women we rallied and we helped here and we did the best we could,” Tara explained.

When EMT’s took Haines to the hospital, Tara said she drove his wife, Kimberly, there right behind them. Deputies say Haines passed away at the hospital.

Tara said she and Mitch have been in constant contact with Kimberly, doing anything they can to help her manage this difficult time.

“She’s doing the best she can having just lost a husband 24 hours ago, and as far as we know she has a great support system,” said Tara. “Yeah, she does, she really does,” Mitch added.

After everything they experienced, the Bratton’s say they’re just proud of everyone on the beach who came to help.

“If there’s a hero, it’s the community. It’s not one person it’s the community because that’s who stepped up,” said Mitch.